MFS Basic Headaches: Understanding some of it… by Joe Hummel

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MFS Basic Headaches: Understanding some of it…

by Joe Hummel

As this is my introduction to, and I am very excited to be a contributor, I would like to introduce myself, and offer some insight. My name is Joe Hummel, and I come from a working class family. I understand that my achievements are earned through effort, and determination, and my success is relevant to those I affect. I focus on compliance, and troubleshoot issues with an emphasis in quality and adaptability, and feel as an industry professional I can offer thoughts on my encounters with the systems and protocols of our industry, so I can help to those trying to assist in providing a better structured industry. I work here too!

One way to try and understand our industry, and its issues is to commit to much frustration, confusion, monetary loss, and the utmost insanity at times. Those who understand it this way are in my opinion considered normal. I am focusing on the “normal” people trying their best to overcome the industry challenges we see today, while trying to keep their sanity managing background checks, administrative compliance audits, mobile technology integration, education, and new quality assurance practices. The struggles of these challenges are flooding social media outlets. Many have sought direction to overcome these new obstacles with valid questions, others close their eyes, and some just scream ignorance. Altogether, there is much commotion.

There is a wide spectrum of controls being placed on our industry that start at the top with paperwork, and roll down to the hands turning screws. Many of these changes and new requirements have positive reasons, but some also need attention regardless of the position you take. Considering the amount of news surrounding the mortgage field service industry, one could say an ability to adapt should be a focus of those choosing to remain, or enter this “industry of changes”. Compliance to industry standards and a strong code of ethics to complete work must be a focus while considering remaining in MFS.

For a true structured industry, we must identify some of the basic issues. One factor is many new contractors join our industry each day examining assets determining the required repairs, and upkeep needed, subsequently providing the services. The large amount of these new contractors are not educated to provide correct assessments for the particular asset they are examining, per the standards of their client, nor do they understand the reason for their assessments. Once the examination is complete with no understanding, the information is already wrong. Wrong information isn’t necessarily the main problem here, but a contributing factor. The main problem is that in most cases the person that was responsible for the wrong information isn’t around long enough for a follow up, and to clarify when mistakes are found. That Contractor cannot learn from his mistake and fix it, he no longer exists.  In some cases follow up is needed a week to a year later. This forces clients to send another contractor to leave off where the other guy couldn’t. This poses much delay in processing properties within compliance timeframes, not even considering the wrong information that was originally submitted that must be sorted out.

TURNOVER is out of control with no basic retention initiatives to keep the right guys in place. There is no way to develop a trend analysis on that contractor; he is now a part of turnover trend. This is very hard for our clients, as well as the normal guy out there doing it right. These properties end up passing through various field networks as each guy leaves the industry.  One of my most favorite things to do when entering a property is to look at a sign in sheet. It tells a story, some good, and some bad. An example that many would agree to be a real situation encountered – {Many names and dates on a sign in sheet to draw a conclusion that 7 different companies have performed the same repair services on this property in the last 5 months.} To me, this is a major problem just from turnover, and wrong information coming from the field. Not to mention how many other issues arise from this example.

Proper screening and hiring of field servicers are a must, just as processors, and management in national companies and banks are hired. Once hired, they must be trained on all the “rules” before allowing them to affect the system. Follow up validation of the rules, and regular compliance checks are a necessity for continued success. As a field service provider, I ask, “Where do I find all the rules to operate my company with the best industry practices?” Tricky question, and I am still asking this question days on end, but I found the best place to start is with your client. It is truly in their best interest to educate you with all the resources they have, and coach you to grow to become a better asset. I have researched many major national service providers, and I have found their websites flooded with guidelines, and standards. All the information to know the rules of the industry for compliance is free to access. There are also national associations to seek membership to help network, and potentially learn solid business practices, and receive industry education from veterans in the industry. If everyone is on the same page understanding the reasons, and the history of changes, I really think our industry would be better off. For the ability to retain the right people, and educate yourself and/or staff, I encourage you to reach out.

I think that there is an old school mentality of how the MFS industry should operate, and a new school mentality trying to reform it with cutting edge technology, creative baseline standards, and controls that are in many ways better for your company.

Real time communication is a focus, and it is advancing.  I think many fail to look positively at this new demand, and mainly see the initial disturbances it causes. When I look at the processing aspect of MFS, I pull my hair out, but after I calm down, I understand that the faster the information travels the better results. This means projects are completed faster, and payment is ultimately gained faster. The trick is how to streamline the process to do it most efficiently. I see many companies are trying new ideas to adapt this new way of reporting, but it’s a complicated process that needs vast amounts of testing, and data collecting to achieve the smooth operation.

Our clients are pushing mobile technology, and the mobile system causes many problems. One issue is for those operating with no “real” connection to their contractors. This is proven to be the thorn for order mill companies. How can you train your contractor on mobile technology when it’s your clients’ system, mandated for field use that you cannot 100% control, rather suggest guidance with troubleshooting, and integration? (they are 1099 Subs) BOTG companies manage the app better as they have the “real “connection to their field workers, and the produce the best first person feedback, but most concerns with BOTG companies are  the many technical glitches in these systems currently being used, and the monetary loss in production levels because it is tremendously slowing their performance in the field. I have had occurrences where systems fail while in the middle of inspecting a property, and I have taken over 1000 photos of detailed damages. It’s FRUSTRATING to say the least. Either way each business structures will have to overcome these obstacles to remain successful in this industry.

There is a flip side here. The mobile apps are a way for the client to verify location, and see the contractor is at the right place. This helps avoid the accidental “lock-out” from happening in some cases.  The app assists in validating required photos faster, and receiving the information almost instantly while at a property, thus streamlining the approval process for many situations. The amount of approvals or processing that can be completed while the tech is onsite is light years faster when you have ALL of the information needed in just seconds. Glitches, or bugs are worked out by way of feedback to the perspective IT departments, and I understand they hate hearing their product is not functioning properly, but they absolutely love a perfect product. And, if they want us to use it, they must fix it. We need to offer the feedback. It requires many man hours testing and tweaking these systems to fix these issues to allow the apps to function efficiently. Field level service providers shouldn’t see themselves as guinea pigs, but pioneers helping to change the reporting aspect of MFS industry.

I think the companies that adapt to these basic issues will be better off protecting their companies’ future as the new changes and compliance standards are passed down.  I believe that if you have the best people working for you that have been educated, and the best technology providing a faster product with best level of quality, you can be successful in any industry, but to merely operate in the MFS industry it is a standard. Excelling depends on our ability to adapt, and RETAIN the right people.

Joe Hummel is the owner, and CEO of Keystone Property Services, LLC, and a member of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS). Contact him at

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